When I was in sixth grade I saw skinny girls and I thought they were beautiful, and I thought that because everyone else did. My dream body was a flat stomach even while sitting, so every day I would work out and eat healthy to the point where my mom began to get worried I was too focused on it. I told her not to worry, and that I was only working so hard so that by the time I was 15 I would be able to have my dream body. I thought I was being smart.
Now I’m 15, and although a lot thinner and taller than I was when I was eleven, I’m more insecure than I have ever been. It began when I started realizing that every time I watched a makeup tutorial, it would subtly hint that my natural features were undesirable. I started noticing that “bring out those eyes” or “make those eyes pop” was really just code for “your eyes are too small”. I started noticing that every contour video looked the same, and that every time I would contour my face the way they did it in the video, I looked pretty; I looked less asian. I would try to make my nose look smaller and my eyes bigger and my eyelashes longer and I did it to a point where I didn’t like the way I looked without makeup. I didn’t even feel like I looked like me without makeup.
So my solution was to stop wearing makeup. So far, it’s helping little. I’m getting used to the fact that this is my face, but I don’t feel pretty at all.
Then I started realizing more, this time it was about my body. I noticed that all the body positivity posts showing up on my timeline were about curvy girls learning to love themselves. That made me really happy. Then the next post would be a guy talking about how much he loves curvy girls. That would make me really happy. The next post would be someone posting a picture of a white girl with a big ass, with the caption “white girls are evolving”. That would make me laugh. And I didn’t know what it was doing to me until I looked into the mirror. That would make me really sad.
After I realized the emotional toll that memes about hot girls and body positivity posts had on me, I noticed more and more how social media was promoting one body type. It was a different body type from what was being promoted before, which is good, but it’s still only one body type. And it was mostly men that were promoting it. The “women with thick thighs” tweets were killing me, because mine are just thighs. The “booty appreciation” pictures were making me sick, because I never saw someone post a butt with cellulite, that wasn’t that big, that had stretch marks on it on those posts; I never saw a butt like mine.
I threw myself into another frenzy of quick fixes like my sixth grade self was in. It never got me a flat stomach, but it got me somewhere. I looked up tricks to getting a better butt, tricks for getting a slimmer waist, and exercises to make your boobs perkier. I found a lot, and I also found that underneath all the youtube videos and on the sidebars of all the articles there were ads for waist trainers, and links to things that would later convince me I need a butt implant and nipple piercings for my inverted nipples. I felt even worse than I did before.
So I got off of social media. I got off because every time I went on there was something there that was just a joke but it had the underlying implication of “you’re ugly, you’re undesirable to the majority of people your age”. So I stopped going on twitter and I unfollowed all the famous people that were icons of body image and body positivity, because they weren’t making me feel positive about my body at all. For a while that was okay, until I realized that me pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it stop.
I’m not saying that I’m a victim of conscious discrimination and I’m not saying that the women who are looked at for their body image shouldn’t be confident. I’m saying it shouldn’t be just them and I’m saying it shouldn’t be up to the male population and it shouldn’t be all about sexual desire. Obviously, I am only one teenaged girl amongst many who faced and are still facing this problem, so I can’t tell you what the fix is. But I can tell you what it isn’t.
Stop with the “women with… *heart eyes*” and start with the “women *heart eyes*” or even just “her *heart eyes*”. Stop with the “man I’m so glad my girl is curvy” and start with the “I love my girl’s curves”. Stop liking pictures of women who are famous for being attractive and start liking pictures of girls who don’t know they’re attractive. Stop letting body positivity sound like “Man you’re … is hot!” and start making it sound like “you’re beautiful and I love every part of you”.